Thursday, October 23, 2008

It's hot hot hot

As I start to write this it's now half past four in the afternoon of Wednesday 22nd October here in very sunny and very warm San Diego, southern California. The temperature today down at the water was forecast for about 78deg and inland was to be about 98deg. That's almost 26 degrees and almost 37 degrees Centigrade, for those who like me work in those figures and for whom Fahrenheit means nothing! It's bloody hot anyway! And I forgot to put on sun screen this morning. Oh well. RE will kill me!

In my last post I mentioned what we did on Sunday morning, and on Monday.

Yesterday, Tuesday, we headed a little further afield, to the Mount Palomar Observatory in fact. Operated by the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), which coincidentally is who our friend MB, recently formerly of Glasgow Chamber Choir, is now employed by, but in LA (or somewhere nearby) not at Mount Palomar. He's a physicist, and at his leaving party in Glasgow a few months ago (he had been working at Glasgow University) I asked him, as someone who has passed Higher Physics and who has a keen albeit passing interest in "popular" science, what he actually did. Ten minutes or so later, MB had explained to me in really simple terms how he was involved in a world wide experiment relating to gravity waves, and I understood not one word! RE and I are visiting him at the end of next week on our way back home. Oh, did I mention that RE, who is currently in New Zealand, is making a stopover for a few days and joining me in San Diego?

Anyway, the observatory is at the top of a mountain. Mount Palomar in fact, funnily enough. It was a spectacular drive up an extremely twist road, and I took over at the wheel of D's Chevrolet Trailblazer with its 4.2 litre engine and automatic gearbox, part way up the mountain. An interesting experience, not being at all used to left hand drive vehicles (although I have driven them a few times in the past) and not being familiar with the US system of road markings and the rules of the road.

There's not a great deal to see at the observatory, apart from a single room museum nearby (fairly small but quite interesting), and of course the 200 inch Hale telescope, which is HUGE! Well worth the trip though.

Coming back down the mountain, we took a different route part way, and headed to the traditional western town of Julian, which is an historic gold rush town, now famous for its apples and the pies and cider therefrom! We sampled neither, but my brother told me of a previous visit with a couple of friends from Scotland, D & L, when D was horrified to discover that the cider he'd just bought and drank was in fact alcohol free!

Julian is a lovely wee town, and there are some good shops too. Next time I might try an apple pie! And the roads round it are really good, and would be excellent for biking on.

I forgot to mention, at breakfast yesterday we tried Einstein Brothers Bagels instead of Starbucks. The bagels were great (Egg sandwich with bacon and cheese, on an onion bagel) and the orange juice was exceptional, but don't believe their website when it claims darn good coffee. The coffee wasn't great. While sitting outside waiting for my brother to come out with the Bagels, I overheard half of a telephone conversation which made me glad to live in the United Kingdom, and very appreciative of the National Health Service, with all its faults.

The phrase I overheard, which requires no further comment from me, was:

".......I'm not having the heart procedure, because it costs way too much money......."

We rounded off yesterday by having a bit of a barbecue and then watching a DVD, Ben Stiller in Night at the Museum, which if you haven't seen it I would suggest not to go out your way to do so. Harmless and inoffensive, but not the best! I enjoyed the company though.

This morning, Wednesday 22nd October, we mixed and matched at breakfast, finding an Einstein Brothers Bagels next door to a Starbucks, so we had orange juice and bagels from one and coffee from the other, and sat outside in the shade.

Off then to Balboa Park and to the museums. Specifically to the Air and Space Museum and the Automotive one. The Air and Space one has loads of interesting stuff including the Apollo 9 command module, and the Automotive museum has a large collection of Ferrari cars. Again, both well worth a visit. It was $15 each to get into the Air and Space Museum, and $8 each for the Automotive one, although D received a $4 discount to that one for being a member of AAA.

One of the things I experienced in the Air & Space museum was a flight simulator of a fighter aircraft, an F-18 I think it might have been. Let's just say that after my first barrel roll and loop the loop, I was glad I hadn't been to the diner this morning for the size of breakfast I'd had on Sunday! Very exciting though, particularly the upside down bits! Made me glad of the time I've spent in the past using Microsoft Flight Simulator, because at least I knew which way to move the stick!

Leaving Balboa Park, we headed for the Old Town of San Diego, which was fantastic. Lots of history, and lots of shops with the staff dressed in traditional costume. Certainly worth another visit and we'll go when RE is here.

Lastly, for the out and about stuff anyway, we found a Harley Davidson motorcycle dealer, and went in for a look round. More chrome, leather and tassles than you can shake a stick at! Just like the H-D dealer in Glasgow, in fact, only much much bigger.

Before coming here on holiday, I had considered hiring a Harley Davidson for a few days and riding part of the Pacific Coast Highway, but when I started to look online at prices I realised that I wasn't all that bothered! However, when I was engaged in conversation with one of the dealer's staff this afternoon, he mentioned hiring a bike for 8 hours, and it turns out this only costs $59 (plus maybe $20 insurance and the cost of fuel too) and for that I can choose any bike. It also includes helmets, although no other protective gear is supplied. Watch this space!

So that was today. I'm currently relaxing in preparation for some nice steak tonight, and maybe some beer or some wine.


  1. Hello Lay Clerk:

    Sorry we missed you at Palomar Observatory. If you're still in San Diego, go back up there on Sunday and take a tour. We'll tell you about the observatory, how it was built, and take you inside past the glass room. If you think it's magnificient from there, wait until you're in the same room. Still gives me chills, and I've been a volunteer there for three years.

    Palomar Observatory Docent

  2. Mike, thanks for your comment. I am indeed still in San Diego, and will be for almost another week, but the chances are I won't make it back to Palomar. Not on this trip anyway, but maybe in the future.